Kinderhilfe Nepal e.V.Charity Organization for Nepalese Slum Children

Newsletter August, 2023

The monsoon, which arrived in Nepal punctually on June 13, as it does every year, has brought with it the usual epidemics and natural disasters. Those in power know that giant floods then devastate the south of the country and that earth avalanches swallow whole mountain villages, make roads impassable and kill people, but nothing is ever done to try to prevent this evil. More and more homeless peasants are moving to India by necessity to try their luck, hoping to find some kind of work. Malaria, typhoid and dengue fever affect the south of the country from June to October and recently also the capital Kathmandu.

Because of climate change, mosquitoes are now found at altitudes of 2000 meters in the Himalayan mountains. Because of the inflation caused by the Russian attack on Ukraine, the whole world is experiencing a difficult time, but poor countries like Nepal are particularly affected. The government is now pinning its hopes on tourism: in 2019, the number of permits issued to foreigners to climb Mount Everest was reduced because the entire area surrounding the mountain had become a veritable dumping ground. Now, international climbers are again lining up at the foot of the world's highest mountain: the permit for one climber alone already costs € 10,000, and in addition, everyone pays € 50,000 to € 90,000 for this expedition, which lasts up to two months. Many Nepalese mountain guides live from this business, and the government also fills its coffers. In 2019, the Chinese brought down 8 tons of garbage from the mountain in one go, but since the life-threatening climb business is now back in full swing, climbers can not only admire new garbage dumps, but also pay their respects to several frozen and completely preserved human corpses that have been lying on the side of the trail for years.

Last April, it was decided that from now on, even short hikes in the Himalayas may only be undertaken in the company of a registered local guide. This is to protect the environment and improve the safety of hikers, who often get lost, have accidents and not infrequently leave their lives there without help. This, of course, also creates jobs for the locals.

Maoist government leader Dahal was on a state visit to India in May, where he discussed several joint projects with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A deal was signed in which Nepal pledged to supply India with 10,000 megawatts of electricity over the next 10 years. To smooth over long-standing disagreements with Hindu nationalist Modi, atheist Pushpa Kamal Dahal did not hesitate to don the saffron dress of Hindus before visiting and gracing several temples with his host. The Nepalese budget for this year was finally approved in May, but the financial resources for the most important projects are missing: The construction of 400 small hospitals that were to be built across the country in 2023 was postponed to "later" for lack of funds, even though doctors complained loud and clear that the reduction in finances would have dire consequences for the Ministry of Health.

Meanwhile, Kathmandu's mayor Balendra Shah does not remain inactive: He continues to clean up the city and demands that electrical lines, telephone and Internet cables be laid underground. But in doing so, he falls on deaf ears with the authorities. After several months, the Nepalese High Court ruled in his favor: Kathmandu's slums will be destroyed, as he wants, but not until it has been determined who among the 5,000 official slum dwellers in the capital is really poor. Only after the poorest have been provided with housing may the eviction process begin. This means that nothing will change for a long time! This is a slap in the face for our now controversial mayor, who does not like to admit defeat. In response to the verdict, he started to revive one of his old fights: Nepalese law decrees that all Kathmandu hospitals must provide 10% of their bed capacity free of charge to the needy. Of course, no hospital does that.

Already 6 months ago, "Baien" - as he is called by his followers - had asked the Minister of Health for a private audience and demanded from him to make sure that this law is respected. Since nothing happened, he now visited the minister a second time to tell him that if the hospitals did not comply with the law within 7 days, he, Balendra Shah, would take them to court . A week later, the minister appealed to all medical institutions to comply with the law after all, to date without success. Now that they know that their settlement cannot be evacuated in the near future because the authorities will not be able to find a shelter for them anytime soon, the 1500 residents of Thapathali have fallen back into their old lethargy. Due to the rising, almost unaffordable prices, they are poorer than ever, and it is the women who, in most families, keep their children afloat by working on construction sites. Many men are unemployed, drink home-brewed rice liquor, and in the evenings demand that their wives fulfill their "marital duties." This causes large, noisy fights in the slum, involuntarily adding to the entertainment of the neighbors.

The women of Thapathali no longer want children and have no interest in sex at all, they say. The men who used to go to prostitutes now have no money for it, and there is unemployment even in this trade.

The fact that Mayor B. Shah has banned the capital's many poor from running small businesses on the streets has become a major problem: Videos appear on the Internet showing violent police attacking street vendors. Not only are they being beaten bloody, they are also being robbed of their goods, causing people's anger to grow.

In Thapathali, some women have set up carts at the entrance to the slum, selling tea and snacks to employees of a nearby company and to drivers waiting for their bosses in cars in the parking lot outside the slum. Although there is a small police station at the entrance to the settlement, it is not safe for women to walk the alleys alone after dark. Apart from the tourist areas, which are patrolled by the police, it is not safe in all of Kathmandu today anyway.

The Madhesis. our "Maute" people whose children we have been taking care of for so long, are also doing their best to survive. The second part of the clan has finally found corrugated iron shelters, and is now better off than before under their plastic huts. The women have since confessed to us why they refuse to work: It is the men who categorically forbid them, they say. They are only allowed to cook, wash, take care of the children and beg, as has been the tradition in this clan for decades. These men are polite, but they always treat us with distance. If we were to introduce regulations that do not suit them into the community, they would not hesitate to take their children out of school and disappear. Moreover, the women have to obey them in everything.

Among this ethnic group, women would never refuse to sleep with their husbands because they see children as a kind of old-age insurance: the more children, the more chances of having someone to take care of them in old age. In the south of Nepal, where they come from, they have to walk around completely veiled and are not allowed to leave the house alone. For this reason, they are eager to stay in Kathmandu, where customs are not so strict.

Since the men are no longer allowed to sell their homemade plant medicines on the streets of the capital, they now try their luck in more distant villages, where they find customers among the poor farmers. Sporadically we take care of the children of another Madhesi clan, but they move on every three months and then return regularly. The children of these people do not go to school and do not want to do so at all. The clan has always led a nomadic life and lives under colorful cloth tents. The men sell themselves as carpenters and the women collect old clothes, which they turn into small carpets or washcloths to sell afterwards. Precisely because they work, we appreciate them very much, but change for better hygiene is difficult with them because they are not sedentary.

We thank you all for your loyal support and will be back in touch in December with news from Kathmandu and donation receipts for 2023

Best regards

Elisabeth Montet